The 24-year-old rhymer from Kenya, who also reps St. Paul, Minn., brought an unprecendented idea to the table for his freestyle: a choir. That’s right, KayCyy’s freestyle features a six-person choir that provides a haunting melodic backdrop to his impressive bars.
"James Brown of my generation, a piece of me in every song/Not avoiding my temptations, I face shit then I move on/And they callin’ who a Freshman? Feel like a vet that just got on/Man, this shit took some years/If it took one night then it should feel wrong," KayCyy spits in his freestyle, speaking on his already impressive industry resume despite only being in the game for a few years.
The creative aspect of this moment may inspire future Freshman prospects to try imaginative endeavors in a similar vein, according to the rising artist. "More people are probably gonna do more creative stuff in the solo part that they maybe didn’t know they could do other than just rap," KayCyy predicts, speaking to XXL in an exclusive interview on his choice to bring a choir in for his freestyle. "It’s the first freestyle I probably ever did for a platform. I’ve never really done one for radio either. It’s challenging, but I like challenges."
KayCyy has made moves both as a solo artist and behind the scenes since entering hip-hop. Plus, he's had a hand in many other rappers' projects as a songwriter and feature artist. Since 2013, the hip-hop newcomer has been dropping music on SoundCloud, and released a handful of projects over the last few years. Formerly known as KayCyy Pluto, his project, Vacation, arrived in 2016. Pluman 2, Plumixes, Patient Enough, Ups & Downs, Two20 50 and Get Used to It followed. He's also worked alongside rap mainstays and legends such as Kanye West and Lil Wayne. Perhaps most notable is his presence within West’s critically acclaimed album Donda, where KayCyy is credited as both a writer and performer on tracks like "Keep My Spirit Alive."
Earlier in 2022, KayCyy, born Mark Mbogo, dropped a collab EP with acclaimed producer Gesaffelstein. The release contained three songs, one of which, "OKAY!," features electronic sounds and no bass in the instrumental. The genre-bending track still manages to contain incredibly high energy, and that kind of risky creative decision is what KayCyy is building his career off of.
"[It’s] cool when people are trying to do it outside the box," KayCyy shares. "With the 'OKAY' joint, it was obviously a discussion, 'Do we add drums or do we do this?’ I was really fortunate to even work with [Gesaffelstein]. When he presented the beat, it was like that. So, there were no drums there. He was like, 'I have this beat,' but he couldn’t really get nobody to do anything with it. I was like, 'Play it.' And then we just started messing around with it. And I just felt like it had so much energy already."
Despite his notable accomplishments, it still feels as though KayCyy is just getting started.
Check out KayCyy’s 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by Puma, below.
Read the 2022 XXL Freshman cover story featuring BabyTron, Cochise, Saucy Santana, Babyface Ray, KenTheMan, SoFaygo, Big Scarr, Big30, KayCyy, Doechii, Kali and Nardo Wick when the Freshman issue hits newsstands everywhere on July 13. The issue includes additional interviews with Lupe Fiasco, Kevin Gates, Pi’erre Bourne, NLE Choppa, Yvngxchris, producer DJ Dahi, engineer Teezio and singer Chlöe, plus a breakdown of every Freshman Class from a numbers standpoint, a look back at what the 2021 XXL Freshman Class is doing, the story of why the 2016 XXL Freshman Class gets so much respect now, a deep dive into the world of NFTs through hip-hop’s lens and exploring rappers’ most valuable collections. You can also buy the 2022 XXL Freshman Class issue here.